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NSFW: Imagining a new Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad

I love it. I want to see it everywhere, especially on the desktop. I'm smitten with two parts of the new MacBook: The keyboard and the new trackpad. I'd love to see them available for desktop Macs too.

The MacBook keyboard uses a new switch mechanism that travels much less than the scissor switches inside the keyboards of other Macs; it helps to maintain the MacBook's slim profile, and also distributes the pressure of your fingers hitting the keys more evenly.

The net result is that returning to the keys on a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro or even Apple's current Wireless Keyboard end up feeling like walking on warped deck planks of an old boat. They feel creaky, imprecise and uneven.

The MacBook keyboard spoils you fast. The keyboard is full-sized, though the actual grouping of the keys is closer than it is on other keyboards, so it take a bit of time to adjust to the placement. Once you do, though? You're flying.

Apple's pushing haptics — tactile feedback technology — in 2015 products in a big way. The "Taptic Engine" is a linear actuator found inside the Apple Watch that lets you feel someone else's heartbeat, or get taps from your watch to notify and direct you. Force Touch is what Apple calls the haptic technology inside the new MacBook's trackpad.

Other Macs (except for the new revision to the 13-inch MacBook Pro) use a mechanical trackpad - when you push it down with your finger or thumb, a mechanical button is depressed which produces that click noise and sensation.

No such apparatus exists inside the new MacBook. The trackpad feels the same as other Mac laptops, and pushing it produces the resistance and click sensation you'd expect from a trackpad. But it's all electronic. There is no button there. It's uncanny. And you adapt to it instantly.

I'm an unabashed fan of mechanical keyboards, so you might assume that I don't like the new tech in the MacBook, but you'd be wrong. I love it. I want to see it everywhere, especially on the desktop.

As much a fan as I am of mechanical keyboards and sophisticated gaming mice, I also really admire and respect a well-engineered, thin-profile keyboard like the Apple Wireless Keyboard and a great trackpad surface like the Magic Trackpad. I use them both with my 2008 Mac Pro.

The MacBook's keyboard is unique to that computer for now, but the Force Touch trackpad isn't. It's already found in the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. I assume it'll be in the next revision to the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro too, which should be out in the next few months. I'd love to see it in future MacBook Air models too.

But I'd also love to see Apple revise the keyboard and trackpad that they offer users more comfortable with stationary desktop systems. Wireless keyboards come with iMacs; assuming Apple is on track to revise the iMac later this year, as they often do annually, it'd be great to see a new keyboard appear at the same time (available also in separate retail dress). And yes, please, a Magic Trackpad with this phenomenal new haptic technology. Let's take it one step further, too. How about a Magic Mouse with Force Touch?

Well, I can dream, for now...

How about you? Does the new MacBook's tech set your imagination ablaze about what future Mac gear might look — and more importantly — feel like? Or do you like the old stuff better? Sound off in the comments, let me know.

29 Comments
  • I think that a MacBook inspired Magic Trackpad and Keyboard would be great for MacBook owners who also have a iMac that want some continuity in the way they type and use the trackpad. It would also be cool if they had a force tough mouse.
  • Peter, please don't ask us to comment 'below'. Given that this is an 'i-blog' it's likely that many of us are using the iOS app and therefore don't have 'comments below'! Sent from the iMore App
  • Make me a wireless keyboard with the new mechanisms and a numpad and I'll love you forever. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm not disagreeing with you, but we all know the number pad will never happen.
  • This is the first year I've done my taxes without a numeric keypad. I did them, and filed them, on the road on my MacBook Pro. I honestly believe I can now live without it.
  • My next "dream" setup will be — all from Apple — a 27" retina 5K desktop monitor, the biggest and baddest 15" Macbook Pro with the new keyboard and trackpad, all USB-C ports on everything, and separate new keyboard, mouse, and trackpad (for the desk). I'd like to dock the MBP at the desk with all peripherals plugged into that big monitor. It seems the direction they are going in anyway. (I'm already all in with the iPhone and iPad, and we'll see how that Watch works out once I get it.) That new keyboard takes me all of one short sentence to adjust to. As my hands age the light crisp and sure touch is very welcome. The Force Touch trackpad is an absolute joy, making it easier to click anywhere instead of having to move toward to bottom to make the click easier — so much more precise because you don't have to ever move in order to click. Because of that new trackpad I bought a new 13" MBP to try having a laptop and I'm totally sold on the idea. Once my "ideal" setup is a reality I'll start moving over to all-new gear, trading up from my late 2013 iMac and experimental Macbook Pro. Until this is all a reality, and USB-C becomes the new standard in reality, I'll enjoy what I have.
  • I was surprisingly underwhelmed by the new trackpad - I expected to love it - but pleasantly surprised by the feel of the keyboard.
  • Not just No, but Hell No! Apple's current desktop keyboard sucks. The primary reason is due to the limited vertical travel. And you want a keyboard with even less vertical travel. No. Just No.
  • Your handle speaks volumes about the uniqueness of your point of view here.
  • Sorry, I don't get it. You think a lousy keyboard is the new hotness? Bad is Bad, regardless of somebody's "handle".
  • Hey dude, buy a third party mechanical keyboard with the deepest keys you can find. It's pretty simple. Obviously, Apple will extend its new tech to its other lines, that just makes sense. I don't see how low travel is an issue, as long as it feels like it has "depth." For instance, the Type cover for the SP3 "feels" like it's moving somewhere, but really it's not that much travel. Hell, a taptic keyboard could have as much travel as you wanted right? Give me a glass screen and let me make my own keys. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • Hey, I've worked in IT for many years, I'm fully aware of the whole issue with key travel, the dwindling group of old folks who insist that the old IBM clackity-clack keyboards with the enormous travel are the only "decent" ones, and that any move away from that gold standard is "bad." The fact is though it isn't necessarily true, and you, (as one of these people) are obviously aware by now that 99% of the world doesn't agree with you. It's just an old argument used by old folks who can't get used to the new. It's the same argument people used when the "new" IBM electric typewriters came out to replace the longer travel of the mechanical keys. It's the same argument used when USB keyboards with dimple switches replaces the early IBM computer keyboards. It will keep happening over and over, and people who don't want to move forward but instead cling to the past will never be happy with the new keyboards, whereas people who have a more open mind will adapt and quickly see the superiority of the new ones. It's all a matter of your attitude towards life in general, which is why I brought your handle "OldAndBusted" into it. If the name fits, wear it.
  • Magic Haptic Trackpad that retrofits to existing iMacs? I'll buy two right away. Three if it works as a control for the new Apple TV rumoured for June's WWDC.
  • I think that it's fairly obvious that this will happen. The desktop keyboard and trackpad are a no brainer to me. What *could* happen, and would be dreamy for a lot of users, but probably *won't* happen is this same technology being used for a keyboard attachment for iPad Air or iPad mini, as in a keyboard case.
  • Having played with the new MacBook...I'm really surprised how much i like the new keyboard. Fingers crossed its bundled in to a macbook refresh after wwdc!
  • I spent a little time with a new MacBook at my local Apple Store, and absolutely loved it. The keyboard and the track pad both. I just simply feel they are awesome, and all MacBooks should move to these ASAP. I also agree they should be installed as a big upgrade to the desktop keyboards, number pads, and the magic track pad. I don't have experience with the Magic Mouse, so I can't comment on it, but if this tech can help improve that product as well, do it. Furthermore, if there's ever been a time for Apple to make a keyboard for iOS devices, this new keyboard should be the the trigger for them to jump on now. I'd buy one to replace my Zagg keyboard in a heart beat, assuming it would be like the new MacBook keyboard.
  • By itself haptic feedback doesn't win me over as a must have addition - I think the versatility of the current models is sufficient, and I wouldn't replace them for this alone. On the other hand, adding a Touch ID sensor and/or backlight might make it more appealing as a separate purchase.
  • The problem I've got with the current Magic Trackpad is that it requires a firm and even desktop surface to depress the mechanical button, which is essentially on the bottom of the pad. This makes it less than ideal to use, for example, in the living room, if you have a Mac mini set up as a home theater PC and are using a Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad to control it (I have a Twelve South MagicWand that keeps both of them together as an integrated unit, but it still requires a flat surface like my coffee table to work right). Haptics would go a long way to fixing that. An edge case, I admit, but a practical example of where I think it could come in handy.
  • I got - don't laugh - a board. It's a nice board, blonde maple, and finished it in clear urethane. It's grippy enough that the keyboard and trackpad don't slide around too much when it's in my lap.
  • I think that force touch is just at the beginning of a long journey, and will completely transform computing. I can see the trackpad become the keyboard with a gesture. Think of it, a dark glass haptic interface, that bring touch screen functionality, a haptic keyboard and reacts to pressure sensitive drawing software. Sent from the iMore App
  • Drat! I just purchased a wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad. My life is over because I don't have the new shiny! Not really. I'll be fine. I needed them now vs waiting for an unannounced product to be announced and released. Next go around.
  • This is a no-brainer. Definite buy! Sent from the iMore App
  • I tried the new MacBook out at recently and like it, but had to refrain from pounding the keys, and touch pad. So some of experience was hapered by the WIFI not working well. I keep tapping the force touch pad, but the internet connection causing pages not to come up. I had the same problem with a Pro and IMac. Next time I'll try it out at Apple Store. I agree with the keyboard and force touch trackpad, and I hope they add the new LED backlighting to.
  • I've had my MacBook for a few days now, and so far I absolutely love it. The keyboard is great. The trackpad, well, if I didn't know what was going on with it I wouldn't even realize it changed. Apple did a great job recreating the experience of the old trackpad while providing something more advanced. Whether it's better or not, I'm still not sure. So far I don't use it any different than any previous trackpad.
  • Rene, do you think I should wait for the macbook pro 15 inch to be updated or get the current one. Also I have to choose between the following to macs. 1. Macbook pro 13 inch, 512GB SSD, 16 GB memory, dual core i7 3.1 GHz turboboost to 3.4GHz. (Updated one)
    2. Macbook pro 15 inch, 256GB SSD, 16GB memory, quad core i7 2.8GHZ turboboost to 4GHz.
    I will use the computer for programming as I will be studying computer engineering next year.
    Also my current pc's battery doesn't work. Thanks Sent from the iMore App
  • Peter, do you think I should wait for the macbook pro 15 inch to be updated or get the current one. Also I have to choose between the following to macs. 1. Macbook pro 13 inch, 512GB SSD, 16 GB memory, dual core i7 3.1 GHz turboboost to 3.4GHz. (Updated one)
    2. Macbook pro 15 inch, 256GB SSD, 16GB memory, quad core i7 2.8GHZ turboboost to 4GHz.
    I will use the computer for programming as I will be studying computer engineering next year.
    Also my current pc's battery doesn't work. Thanks Sent from the iMore App
  • I just want a wireless keyboard that has black keycaps like the laptops. Maybe a backlight too. Scissor mechanisms? Sure.
  • The desktop magic track pad is. Let's face it, terrible. After a while it hurts the tips of my fingers to use. The pressure for activation is too strong in the middle and only barely acceptable on the very bottom edge. To make matters worse you can't really use it on anything but a flat desk. This would be awesome to use on a couch as a pointing device for a tv connected mac mini. but to click you have to actuate the rubber buttons on the ground. Lets hope they completely redesign the magic track pad when they release a new one. Though i actually like the mac keyboard, i would totally go out and buy one of the new keyboards if they released one.
  • I spent a little time with a new MacBook at my local Apple Store, and absolutely loved it. The keyboard and the track pad both. I just simply feel they are awesome
    every devices should be wireless in my opinion like wireless keyboard and mouse
    I found in this article an inspiration about that: http://www.the-best-wireless-keyboard.com/why-wireless-keyboard/